Counting the Omer

“From the day after the day of rest — that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving — you are to count seven full weeks, until the day after the seventh week; you are to count fifty days; and then you are to present a new grain offering to Adonai.”
Leviticus 23:15-16

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What is Counting the Omer?

According to the Torah’s instruction, we are to count 49 days (7 weeks) from the day following Passover until Shavuot (Pentecost). It is a period of semi-mourning called Serfirat HaOmer or “the counting of sheaves” and marks the time period between the Passover (physical redemption) and the giving of the Torah (spiritual redemption) at Mount Sinai. The connection between the resurrection and Shavuot (Pentecost), the counting is highly symbolic for believers in Messianic believers because all of Yeshua’s post-resurrection appearances and ascension occurred during this time

Why do we do it?

It is a type and shadow, for we know that the Brit Chadashah (New Covenant) reveals that Shavuot is the climax of G-d’s plan of deliverance through Yeshua. As Messianic believers, Yeshua’s bloody sacrifice on the cross, as our Passover Lamb, removed our sins and makes us pure. Shavuot is the fulfillment of Yeshua’s promise of the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) to those who trust in Him for salvation and restoration to the Father.

Therefore, Counting the Omer is a countdown that represents giving of the New Covenant to mankind which makes the Torah a matter of the heart, written by G-d’s Holy Spirit. It is a period of repentance and reflection that is focused upon being clothed with Spirit so that we may encounter the resurrected Glory of the L-rd. The waving of the sheaves represents the “one new man”, which is composed of both Jew and Gentile in Messiah before the altar of the L-rd as referenced in Ephesians 2:14.

How we do it?

Every day during Serfirat HaOmer a special blessing is said naming exactly how many more days are left before the seven weeks are complete. Some also recite Psalm 67 because it is composed of 49 Hebrew words that correspond to the Omer count.

Every evening from the second night of Passover to the night before Shavuot, the following blessing is recited:

“Blessed are You L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, who sanctified us with his commandments and commanded us about the Counting of the Omer. Today is the ___ day of the Omer. O Compassionate One! May He return for us speedily in our time.”

Special Days During Serfirat HaOmer.

There are several special days during the Serfirat HaOmer to celebrate. All of Yeshua’s post resurrection appearances occurred during the Serfirat HaOmer. Our family celebrates these special days with meals, kiddish, crafts, special activities, and reading of Scriptures.

Day 1: Feast of Unleavened Bread. This is the day that Yeshua is buried. (Matthew 27:57-61)

Day 3: Feast of First Fruits. This is the day of Yeshua’s resurrection. Yeshua appeared to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9, John 20:16-18), some women (Matthew 28:5-10), and then to Simon Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5).omer

Day 4: Yeshua appeared to the two on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:31) and later that evening to the 12 disciples. (Mark 16:4; Luke 24:33-39; John 20:19)

Day 7: G-d parts the Red Sea for Moses. (Exodus 14).

Day 9: Yeshua appeared to the 12 again (John 20:26).

Day 17: Dag Ba’Omer. This is a special day comes from Beth Immanuel Messianic Synagogue and has become our family tradition.  Dag Ba’Omer in Hebrew means “fish in the Omer”, and it is named this to mark Yeshua’s appearance to the disciples who had returned to their fishing jobs. Yeshua appeared to Thomas. (John 20:24-29) Sometime later he appeared a third time to the disciples as they went back to their fishing jobs. (John 21:1-14) Later He appeared to 500 and then to James, the half-brother of Yeshua. (1 Corinthians 15:6-7) Our family celebrates this day by eating fish and reading the account in Scriptures.

Day 33: Lag B’Omer. This special day comes from the Talmud and it is said that on this day, a plague was lifted which had killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akivah’s disciples. Lag B’Omer is a joy filled day of celebration that includes bonfires, parades, weddings, and first hair cuts for children. After this day, the semi-mourning period continues. While it is important to take time to remember and mourn sad things of life. We must recognize G-d’s goodness and provision in the midst of sorrowful times. For believers in Messiah, Lag B’Omer reminds us that we live in a fallen world that causes us grief. Our hope is in Yeshua and our focus on New Jerusalem. G-d will wipe every tear and there will be no pain or suffering. (Revelation 1:3-4) There will be a time when our grief will end and it will be marked by the “The Marriage of the Lamb”. (Revelation 19:7)

Day 43: Mem B’Omer. He ascended into heaven from Bethany and commanded His followers not to leave Jerusalem until the promise of the Father was fulfilled during Shavuot. (Luke 24:50; Acts 1:9-12)

Day 45: The Children of Israel camped and Moses ascended Mount Sinai. (Exodus 19)

Day 49: Erev Shavuot.

Day 50. Shavuot. The giving of the Rauch HaKodesh. (Acts 2)

Suggested Themes of Study for Serfirat HaOmer.

This is a time to reflect upon our lives in order to identify and purge those things that are blocking us from deepening our relationship with the Adonai. It is a time to purify ourselves before Him. A time to reaffirm our commitment to the promised offered through the Renewed Covenant. Some areas of study may include, but are not limited to:

• Names of G-d
• The Book of Acts
• Characteristics of G-d
• Gratitude
• Repentance
• Submission
• Fruits of Spirit
• Developing a Servant’s Heart
• Armor of G-d
• Seven Emotional Attributes, which include: Chesed – Loving-Kindness, Gevurah – Justice and Discipline, Tiferet – Harmony and Compassion, Netzach – Endurance, Hod – Humility, Yesod – Bonding, and Malchut – Sovereignty and Leadership

We hope that you will join our family as we Count the Omer.  Blessings from our family to yours.

-K

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What is The Feast of Dedication?

“At the time of the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem.
It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.”
John 10:22

The Feast of Dedication (a.k.a Chanukah or The Festival of Lights) is more than the story of the miracle of the menorah remaining lit for eight days on one day worth of oil, dreidels, latkes, donuts or gifts. The greater narrative of Hanukkah is prophecy fulfilled, a call for spiritual revival, and our Messianic hope in Yeshua.

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Historicity has spoken of Chanukah in great detail in works like Josephus, Septuagint, War of the Jews, History of the Jews, the Talmud, Midrash, and many more. The events of Chanukah occur in the time period between the Old and New Testaments. The story of Chanukah can be found in the books of the Maccabees located in the Catholic Bible, as well as the Aprocrypha. Chanukah is also referenced in the New Testament (John 10:22).

Chanukah commemorates a true event in history that was prophesized by the Prophet Daniel, and fulfilled in a military and moral victory brought forth through G-d’s provision to ensure the birth our L-rd and Savior, Yeshua HaMashiach.

Chanukah Means
The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication” and marks an eight day winter celebration that commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple after a small group of Jewish believers, led by Judah Maccabee, defeated the Greek forces and freed the Jews from forced Hellenistic assimilation. Chanukah represents the victory of faith over reason and humanism and demonstrates mightily the power of G-d through His chosen people. Therefore, you could say that Chanukah truly means dedicated against assimilation.

Daniel’s Prophesy of Chanukah
Chanukah was foretold many centuries before the events surrounding it transpired by the Prophet Daniel. While in Babylon, Daniel described in detail the emergence of Antiochus IV, his campaign to convert the Jews, his desecration of the Temple, and the heroic revolt that overthrew his regime. This prophecy was written about three centuries before Alexander the Great was born. No one but G-d, could have inspired Daniel to document that Alexander would conquer the Middle East and that his empire would be divided into four kingdoms after his death. (Daniel 8:21-22). He also foretold that Antiochus would ascend to power and oppress the Jews. (Daniel 8:23-24). He also described the way in which Antiochus would desecrate the Temple, prohibit Jewish worship, and place idols in the Temple. (Daniel 11:30-31). Finally, Daniel foretold that many Jews would be deceived and practice a Greek perversion of Judaism. (Daniel 11:32).

The Story of Chanukah
In 333 BCE, Alexander the Great conquered Syria, Egypt and Babylonia and promoted a lenient form of Hellenistic culture, encouraging the study of language, customs, and dress of the Greeks. He wanted a statute in His honor erected in the Temple, but since this was against Torah, the High Priest at the time offered a living tribute by requiring the people to name all their firstborn sons after him. This compromise would ultimately threaten the very existence of Judaism. It brought forth a division and selection among the Jewish people those who embraced Hellenistic ideals (Hellenistic Jews) and those who held to G-d’s Word, teachings, and mitzvot (commands).

A century later, the Syrian king Antiochus IV began to openly persecute Jews. He appointed a Hellenistic “High Priest” to the Temple, prohibited the study of Torah, and observation of G-d’s commands (e.g., Shabbat, dietary laws, circumcision, Feasts, etc.). He order pigs to be sacrificed on the holy altar and erected an image of the Greek god Zeus as a new point of worship in the Temple. He insisted on being called “epiphanies” which means “god manifest”. All the altars, utensils, and the golden menorah (lampstand) were defiled or torn down.

These outrages incited rebellion and by 165 BCE the Hasmoean family of Mattathias the High Priest and his youngest son Judah “Maccabee” (the “Hammer”) organized an army using guerrilla warfare that eventually succeeded in evicting the Syrian-Greeks from Israel. The temple was liberated but needed to be rededicated for Jewish worship. They cleaned the temple, removed the altar of sacrifice stone by stone and buried it in the nearby hills, and erected a new alter. It is at this time that the miracle of the oil happened. There was very little oil left that had not been defiled. Oil was needed for the menorah to burn continually in the Temple, but there was only enough to last for one day. Miraculously, the sanctified oil burned for eight days – the time needed to prepare a fresh supply for the menorah. An eight day festival was declared to commemorate the miracle and the liberation of the temple. The festival is the same length as Sukkot, and it is believed that this was chosen because since they did not have a chance to celebrate the Feast during their warfare with the Syrians.

The story of Chanukah includes men and women of faith you were ready and had to courage to take a stand for the true living G-d and the commands that He had given in His Word. These men and women refused  to bow down to false gods and assimilate into another culture because they held tight to the teachings of G-d.  Mattityahu (Mattathias), Juduah Macabee, Yehduit (Judith), Chanah (Hannah) and her seven sons, are written about in the Books of the Macabees and Judith, which are found in the Catholic Bible or the Aprorypha. 

The events of Chanukah happened only four generations prior to the birth of our Messiah, if the great warriors of faith had not risen up in opposition and had the courage to fight, and sacrifice their lives to worship G-d according to His commands, the Jewish nation would have become extinct and the Messiah would never have been born.

Chanukah’s theme is about remaining steadfast in our faith, committed to G-d in a godless and broken world, and our deliverance. Since we are called to be part of His Temple, His Body, at this time we reflect on rededicating ourselves to the eradication of all that compromises us and tempts us to assimilate to the world around us. Through the light of Jesus Christ we have gained victory over the power of darkness. We are called to walk in His light. We have fellowship, unity, echudt, with one another.

Traditions:  There are a number of traditions involved in celebrating Chanukah and they include:

  • Lighting the Chanukiah
  • Family Time and Reading Scripture
  • Playing Dreidel 
  • Special Foods (Latkes, Donuts)
  • Giving Tzedakah (Charity)

Pulling It Altogether  Chanukah is a celebration of deliverance. It is a time to express our Messianic hope. Just as the Maccabees were used by G-d to redeem Israel, we more fully appreciate the scene that unfolded as Jesus celebrated the feast in Jerusalem. Amidst the activities of the celebration, He was approached by some rabbis and asked a simple question, “How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us publicly.” (John 10:24). The answer to this question is the message of Chanukah. He reiterates his claim and the proofs of His Messiahship. (John 10:25-39). 

This shows the real connection between Chanukah and Jesus. Chanukah recalls a military victory for Israel, and the implications are vast.  If Antiochus had succeeded in his campaign of anti-Semitism and destruction, there would have been no Jews around by the time of Jesus.  The miracle of Jesus’ birth could only take place after the miracle of Chanukah. All believers in Jesus have important reasons to celebrate the Feast of Dedication. Messiah, our deliverer, has come. Let us clean and prepare our temples for His return.

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The spake Jesus again unto them saying, I am the light of the world:  he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12

Chag Chanukah Sameach!  Happy Chanukah!

Resources:

Why We Don’t Celebrate Halloween?

It is unfortunate that Halloween has become a very touchy and divisive subject within the Christian community. As more of the world has crept into the church in an attempt to attract more congregants or provide community outreach with trunk-n-treats, Halloween parties, or other type celebrations that glorify Halloween, many Christian parents and churches have willingly sanctioned the celebration of a pagan holiday that is in direct violation of Scriptures.

Know the History of this Holiday. October 31st marked the end of the Celtic calendar year. It thereby was the eve of Samhain and marked a three-day festival of the dead celebrated by the Celtic pagan cult called the Druids. During the festival, the following activities occurred: the dead were suppose to have rose and wandered; divination and soothsaying were practiced; fairies, witches, and goblins harassed the people of the countryside; Druids demanded contributions of food to support their special diet. Halloween’s emphasis is directly associated with the underworld of hell.  I encourage you to research Halloween’s origins for yourself, study Scripture, and then ask yourself, “Would G-d want you to celebrate this?” 

Know Who Changed and Mainstreamed the Holiday. In A.D. 837,  the Catholic Church via Pope Gregory IV instituted All Saints’ Day and All Hallows’ Even, or Halloween, as a Christian holiday, which the church hoped would eliminate or replace Samhain and its pagan practices. However, it did not. During the Middle Ages, the celebration frequently accompanied a surge in witchcraft and actual worship of Satan.

Know How The Current Practices and Activities of Halloween All Relate to Its Origins. In light this holiday, consider some of the current practices and activities associated with Halloween.

1. Halloween decorations celebrate death, darkness, fear, pagan rituals and ultimately Satan.

2. Masks and costumes are used to conceal the true identity of children. The children then go out trick or treating which , who are then urged to go out and mimic the acts of trickery and harassment previously attributed to fairies, witches, and goblins.

3. The simple trick-or-treat is a directly connected with the Druids’ demand for food contributions.

4. Posters of witches on broomsticks across the moon actually depict them as on their way to a special  service for the worship of Satan.

5. Pumpkins carved to show a face are related to the turnips carved into death masks, which were carried by Druids during Samhain.

6. The whole concept behind Halloween involves death, darkness, deception, fear, pagan rituals, and Satan.

Know Whose You Are. We are saved by grace and faith in Yeshua Hamashiach. We believe in the death, burial, resurrection and ultimate return of our King. We belong to G-d. We, as members of the Body of Messiah, are a chosen and set apart to be a peculiar people unto Him. (Deuteronomy 14:2) We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood that are called to announce praises to Him who called us out of the darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9). Therefore, we should instead be concentrated on pure and heavenly things, for the fruit of God’s Spirit is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22,23).

You may say,We only do it in fun and make-believe. My children don’t dress as scary things.”  G-d knows what you do not know.  He knows that you shouldn’t get involved in these practices.  He knows the certain danger you face of being deceived. G-d says, “There shall not be found among you any one that… useth divination [fortune telling], or an observer of times [one who uses horoscopes and such like], or an enchanter [one who casts spells or hypnotic trances], or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits [one who works through spiritistic mediums], or a wizard [warlock], or a necromancer [one who speaks with the dead].  For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord.”(Deuteronomy 18:10-12).

You may say, “Oh, it’s just a holiday and I love to celebrate holidays.”  If you like to celebrate holidays, then I courage you to seek out and study the Holy Days given to us by our Father in Heaven. YHVH has given His children eight Holy Days and Appointed Times to meet with Him and celebrate His wondrous works. The Holy Days are Passover (Yeshua Died), Unleaven Bread (Yeshua was buried), First Fruits (Yeshua rose from the dead),  Pentecost (Yeshua ascended to Heaven to be with our Father), Feast of Trumpets (A foretelling of when Yeshua will return), Day of Atonement (a foretelling of Judgement Day), Feast of Tabernacles (Yeshua was born and a foretelling of the marriage feast of the lamb.), and the weekly Sabbath. I encourage you to study these appointed times in Scripture.

There are so many Scriptures that I could share that drive home the message that Believers should not take part in this day. Here are just a few – 1 John 3:7-8, Luke 16:15, 3 John 1:11, 2 Corthinans 6:14, 1 Corthinans 10:20-21, Matthew 7:13-14, Revelation 3:15-16, and Deuteronomy 12:4. I encourage you to study it out on your own.

What Do the Pagans Think About Christians Celebrating Their Holy Day?  The former queen of witches of Europe, remarked to a Christian audience in Louisville that she and other witches and Satanists would laugh when they saw Christians celebrating Halloween. They then point to those Christians who celebrate Halloween as hypocrites of their faith. Umm.. That is really something to think about.

So now what… Well its up to you.  You can choose to continue to participate in the worldly day that honors death. Or, you can choose life and not celebrate it.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou has rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of they God, I will also forget thy children.” Hosea 4:6

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Ephesians 5:8-12).

“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Revelation 22:14,15).

As for me and my house, we choose to serve the L-rd. May this post be a blessing to you and your family.

Tzedakah: What is that?

“But the righteous is generous and gives.”  Psalms 37:12b

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Tzedakah means doing the right thing.  In Jewish tradition, it is an act to help those who are in need.  It is often referred to as charity, but its root word really means justice or fairness.  We are called in Scripture to help others and as followers of Yeshua we are to demonstrate our love for each other. (Matthew 5:16, 1 John 2:29, 3:7, 10).

Each Friday night during our Erev Shabbat prayers before the kindling of the Shabbos lights, our youngest son says the blessing:

“Blessed art Thou, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments and commands us concerning charity.” 

He then places some money into the tzedakah box. The boys  decided that all the money in their tzedakah box will go to CBY:India and CBY:Kenya. G-d is abundantly blessing these missions.  These mission are literally caring for orphans, widows, and the poor.

Do you who gave the greatest act of tzedakah? 

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It was Yeshua. He gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, so that we would be rescued from death and eternal damnation.  He fulfilled Scripture and it is through our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Him that we are saved. We are to righteously live by faith (Hab. 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11).  He is our example, and we are to give glory to the Righteous One through our actions. (Isaiah 24:16)

Baruch Hashem

 

 

Seeing Jesus in the Passover

Passover marks a time that recounts and celebrates the deliverance of the Children of Israel form slavery as G-d’s Chosen People and when Jesus was crucified for our sins, buried, resurrected, and ascended to Heaven to be with the Father.  It is a time when Jew and Gentile can come together to see the blessings that G-d has given us in His Word and means by which we can share the way, the truth and the grace that embodies Jesus.

I pulled together from various sources, including the Messianic Haggadah that we use from the Jewish Voice Ministries which is very detailed in explaining the symbolism of the Passover Seder and its connection to Jesus a document that I use to teach my children.  This document (Jesus in Passover) givens an overview of the various aspects of a Seder and their importance and fulfillment in Jesus.

There are many great teachings on the connection of Jesus to the Passover from various Messianic Ministries, including Beth Yeshua International (the one that our family uses), Jewish Voice Ministries, Hebrew4Christians, and many, many more.

I hope that this document is a blessing to your family.